The Renfield Syndrome Excerpt:
“Help him,” Marianne begged, rushing to me, and reached for my arm.
The ground shifted when her hand touched my shoulder, an odd and profound trembling overwhelming my body. The aches and pains in my back and legs faded, muscles and limbs strengthening and contorting, becoming strong despite my prior fatigue. The room came into a vivid focus, allowing me to see everything clearly, even those things marred by my peripheral vision. My spine went straight as I stood upright and I lifted my head, nourished and guided by this unexpected surge of power.
Jackson’s free arm came back, rounding into a fist, and I didn’t hesitate. I snagged the bitch by the wrist and brought it back, applying just the right amount of pressure as I went. The bone broke cleanly, jamming through the skin -- pink, ivory, and vivid red creating a macabre anatomical art display. I didn’t know where this inhuman strength came from, and I didn’t really care. When I saw the blood pooling and escaping from Joshua’s mouth, I wanted to see the hairy werehound suffer.
Jackson dropped Joshua’s body, releasing the hand twined around his throat. He went limp, brown eyes sliding closed. As she turned to face me, I wasn’t afraid. The pendant against my skin throbbed and pulsed, very much alive and aware. The beating of the black blood center trapped inside the amber pounded in chorus with my heart, each pulse sufficing my muscles, eyes, and limbs with an unexplained, yet undeniable, energy.
“What are you?” she demanded, staggering and wobbling on unsteady legs. Both of her eyes were in bloody tatters, portions of flesh and egg white tissue drifting to her cheekbones.
“A person you never should have fucked with.”
It didn’t take a rocket scientist to predict her next move. She came at me like a brick shit house, balls-to-the-walling-it, wild and crazed. Her teeth shone in the light, large and bright, transcended only by the narrowing of her hollowed out eyes and the claws that lashed out. I shouldn’t have been able to perceive the moment; it was too fast, too fucking quick. Yet my body reacted instinctively, moving into a defensive position as I prepared for the offensive attack soon to follow.
Each violent thrust and punch I evaded or blocked, seeing what she intended before the blow found its mark. Each rage enhanced roar goaded me, driving me onward. As she lashed out with one hand, I encouraged her to try harder, to try again. I wanted to watch this beastly woman crumble.
I wanted to see her on her fucking knees.
A hollow pain struck my chest -- directly beneath Marigold Vesta’s amulet -- knocking me off balance. The strength began to ebb, and I heard Marianne’s weak cries flittering inside my ears. Through a thin haze I listened to her pleas, her desperate begging to return to her child once more before she crossed over. As I focused on her voice, my energy waned, and Jackson’s forehead butted my nose, breaking the vessels and creating an unbridled flow of blood.
Heavy punches from her good hand rained down upon my shoulders and face, sending me into a huddled ball at her feet. Her boots found the vulnerable hollow of my side, hard rubber soles leaving imprints behind on my skin. I attempted to cough the blood that was collecting in my mouth, forcing the bitter and warm liquid from the confines of my lips. The brutal blows continued, going on and on.
A solid punch sent me on my ass, forcing my chin up and back. As my back pressed against the couch, the familiar and welcome coolness of metal flickered against my palm. I grasped the gun as Jackson descended upon me, her features half human and half wolf. I didn’t know squat about werewolves, but I figured the general rule of thumb applied.
When in doubt, aim for the heart or the head.